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Had met him, since he killed Apollo's kine,
Nor house-dog had barked at him on his road; Now he obliquely through the key-hole passed, Like a thin mist, or an autumnal blast.
Right through the temple of the spacious cave
He went with soft light feet—as if his tread Fell not on earth; no sound their falling gave ;
Then to his cradle he crept quick, and spread The swaddling-clothes about him; and the knave
Lay playing with the covering of the bed, With his left hand about his knees—the right Held his beloved tortoise-lyre tight.
There he lay innocent as a new-born child,
As gossips say ; but, though he was a god, The goddess, his fair mother, unbeguiled
Knew all that he had done, being abroad ; “Whence come you, and from what adventure wild,
You cunning rogue, and where have you abode All the long night, clothed in your impudence ? What have you done since you departed hence ?
“ Apollo soon will pass within this gate,
And bind your tender body in a chain Inextricably tight, and fast as fate,
Unless you can delude the God again, Even when within his arms—ah, runagate!
A pretty torment both for gods and men Your father made when he made you!”—“Dear mother,” Replied sly Hermes, “ wherefore scold and bother ?
“ As if I were like other babes as old,
And understood nothing of what is what; And cared at all to hear my mother scold.
I in my subtle brain a scheme have got,
Will profit you and me—nor shall our lot
But we will leave this shadow-peopled cave,
And live among the Gods, and pass each day In high communion, sharing what they have
Of profuse wealth and unexhausted prey ; And, from the portion which my father gave To Phæbus, I will snatch my
away, Which if my father will not-nathelesse I, Who am the king of robbers, can but try.
And, if Latona's son should find me out,
I 'll countermine him by a deeper plan ;
And sack the fane of everything I can-
Each golden cup and polished brazen pan, All the wrought tapestries and garments gay."So they together talked ;-meanwhile the Day
Ethereal born, arose out of the flood
Of flowing Ocean, bearing light to men. Apollo past toward the sacred wood,
Which from the inmost depths of its green glen
Echoes the voice of Neptune,—and there stood
On the same spot in green Onchestus then
Latona's glorious Son began :-"I pray
Tell, ancient hedger of Onchestus green, Whether a drove of kine has past this way,
All heifers with crooked horns ? for they have been
Where a black bull was fed apart, between
And, what is strange, the author of this theft
Has stolen the fatted heifers every one,
Stolen they were last night at set of sun,
Now tell me, man born ere the world begun,
you seen any one pass with the cows ?” To whom the man of overhanging brows,
My friend, it would require no common skill
Justly to speak of everything I see; On various purposes of good or ill
Many pass by my vineyard,—and to me 'Tis difficult to know the invisible Thoughts, which in all those many
be :Thus much alone I certainly can say, I tilled these vines till the decline of day,
“ And then I thought I saw, but dare not speak
With certainty of such a wondrous thing,
Those fair-horned cattle closely following,
And, as on purpose, he walked wavering
Apollo, hearing this, passed quicky on
No winged omen could have shown more clear That the deceiver was his father's son.
So the God wraps a purple atmosphere Around his shoulders, and like fire is gone
To famous Pylos, seeking his kine there, And found their track and his, yet hardly cold, And cried—“What wonder do mine
** Here are the footsteps of the horned herd
Turned back towards their fields of asphodel ;
Grey wolf, or bear, or lion of the dell,
By man or woman thus! Inexplicable !
That was most strange—but this is stranger still !”
Thus having said, Phæbus impetuously Sought high Cyllene's forest-cinctured hill,
And the deep cavern where dark shadows lie,
And where the ambrosial nymph with happy will
Bore the Saturnian's love-child, Mercury-
And Phoebus stooped under the craggy roof
Arched over the dark cavern:-Maia's child Perceived that he came angry, far aloof,
About the cows of which he had been beguiled, And over him the fine and fragrant woof
Of his ambrosial swaddling-clothes he piled As among firebrands lies a burning spark Covered, beneath the ashes cold and dark.
There, like an infant who had sucked his fill,
And now was newly washed and put to bed, Awake, but courting sleep with weary will
And gathered in a lump, hands, feet, and head, He lay, and his beloved tortoise still
He grasped and held under his shoulder-blade; Phoebus the lovely mountain goddess knew, Not less her subtle, swindling baby, who
Lay swathed in his sly wiles. Round every crook
Of the ample cavern, for his kine Apollo Looked sharp; and when he saw them not, he took
The glittering key, and opened three great hollow Recesses in the rock—where many a nook
Was filled with the sweet food immortals swallow, And mighty heaps of silver and of gold Were piled within—a wonder to behold!